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Friday, August 15, 2008

The real acid test ...5:16 pm

When I saw this headline, I wondered what it could possibly mean: “Drugs like LSD and Ecstasy ‘could help terminally ill’.” Turns out (drat!) that it doesn’t mean that those hits of acid you may have swallowed when you were young and irresponsible will help you live longer.

The first clinical trial involving LSD since the 1970s began in Switzerland in June with the aim of using “psychedelic psychotherapy” to help terminally ill patients come to terms with imminent death to improve the quality of their remaining life.

Eight subjects will receive 200 micrograms of LSD – enough to induce a powerful psychedelic experience – and four will be given 20 micrograms. They will then be assessed for anxiety levels, quality of life and pain levels.

[...]

The active ingredient in magic mushrooms, psilocybin, has shown promising results in helping people who are dying from cancer.

[...]

Prof Roland Griffiths, who published the study, told the Guardian: “The working hypothesis is that if psilocybin or LSD can occasion these experiences of great personal meaning and spiritual significance … then it would allow [patients with terminal illnesses] hopefully to face their own demise completely differently – to restructure some of the psychological angst that so often occurs concurrently with severe disease.”

Well, we’ve got pills for anxiety, pills for depression, pills for short attention span; now pills for finding the meaning of life (and death)?

It occurs to me that the first place where you might be able to drop acid and have it all covered by insurance might well be the state of Oregon. In case you missed the story from a few weeks ago: “Oregon Offers Terminal Patients Doctor-Assisted Suicide Instead of Medical Care.”

Some terminally ill patients in Oregon who turned to their state for health care were denied treatment and offered doctor-assisted suicide instead, a proposal some experts have called a “chilling” corruption of medical ethics.

Since the spread of his prostate cancer, 53-year-old Randy Stroup of Dexter, Ore., has been in a fight for his life. Uninsured and unable to pay for expensive chemotherapy, he applied to Oregon’s state-run health plan for help.

Lane Individual Practice Association (LIPA), which administers the Oregon Health Plan in Lane County, responded to Stroup’s request with a letter saying the state would not cover Stroup’s pricey treatment, but would pay for the cost of physician-assisted suicide.

Hey Mr. Stroup: tune in, turn on, drop dead.

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